Fungal infections are estimated to occur in over a billion people each year, and recent evidence suggests the rate is increasing (Hsu 2011; Di Santo 2010; Brown 2012; Fungal Research Trust 2011). Fungi can infect almost any part of the body including skin, nails, respiratory tract, urogenital tract, alimentary tract, or can be systemic (Long 2009; Baron 1996). Anyone can acquire a fungal infection, but the elderly, critically ill, and individuals with weakened immunity, due to diseases such as HIV/AIDS or use of immunosuppressive medications, have a higher risk (Hsu 2011; Baddley 2011).
Although several species of fungi are potentially pathogenic in humans, candida (esp. Candida albicans) is the organism responsible for most fungal infections. Candida, which is normally present within the human body, is usually harmless. However, it can cause symptoms when a weakened immune system or other factors allow it to grow unabated (Merck Manual 2008; Cheng 2012; Douglas 2011).
Increased use of antibiotics and immunosuppressive drugs such as corticosteroids are major factors contributing to higher frequency of fungal infections. Antibiotics and immunosuppressive drugs, by disrupting normal bacterial colonization and suppressing the immune system, create an environment within the body in which fungi can thrive (Hsu 2011; Tani 2012).
Fungal infections can range in severity from superficial to life-threatening. For example, fungal infections affecting only the top layers of the skin are readily treatable and have a relatively limited impact on quality of life. However, if a fungal infection enters systemic circulation, consequences can be deadly (Badiee 2011; Zuber 2001).
Many integrative medical practitioners believe that chronic, low-level candida infestation can cause a variety of non-specific symptoms that may resemble chronic fatigue syndrome, depression, anxiety, or fibromyalgia. This phenomenon is sometimes referred to as “candida-related complex”. Conventional medical practitioners do not recognize candida-related complex as a disease. However, many innovative healthcare practitioners report improvements in patient quality of life upon treatment (Gaby 2011).
Upon reading this protocol, you will have a better understanding of the various ways that fungi can infect a human host, and how conventional medicine treats these infections. In addition, you will discover several natural compounds that have anti-fungal activity and may complement conventional treatments for fungal infections.